The Fashion Photographer (& Her Imaginary Twin) You Need To Know

Spanish luxury house Loewe has collaborated with art photographer Fumiko Imano for a second time, shooting a playful Autumn Winter '18 campaign inside the UNESCO headquarters in Paris. Historically revered for its leather accessories, Loewe is now increasingly known for its catwalk fashion, headed up since 2013 by British fashion designer Jonathan Anderson, of JW Anderson fame.
Born in Rio De Janeiro in 1974, Fumiko’s photography was hugely influenced by her experience of moving to Japan with her Japanese parents at the age of eight. She later studied fine art and fashion photography in London, and began to make self-portraits, and later collaged self-portraits with her imaginary twin. In her latest Loewe campaign, Fumiko and her twin appear alongside the supermodel and maternal health advocate Liya Kebede.
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To celebrate the campaign launch today, Refinery29 caught up with Fumiko over email to find out why she shoots herself in double, and all about the fun she had on set in Paris with Liya, Jonathan and the Loewe team...
Hi Fumiko! Can you tell us why you appear in your photographs?
I started taking pictures of myself when I was 17 or 18, questioning the way I looked and asking myself who I was. I was very self-conscious [about] the way people saw me. When I was studying fashion photography in London, I couldn't collaborate with anyone really because I thought that if I did the result wouldn't be mine. So I started doing everything! Modelling, makeup, photography, styling... You know the DIY expression? Well I reinvented it as "Do It Myself". Being in the pictures is like my signature, like writing my name all over my work.
And why do you shoot yourself in double, as twins?
The twins were born in 2002 when I returned to Japan and didn't find my place within the Japanese culture. So to cheer myself up, I started creating collages of the twins – it was like therapy! I just thought that by creating this imaginary twin sister, I could stay a kid forever!
Loewe Autumn Winter 18 by Fumiko Imano
What was it like, shooting the Loewe campaign with Liya Kebede?
It was really great shooting with her. I watched her movie in an airplane a year ago [Liya plays Waris Dirie, who fled a forced marriage in Somalia aged 13 and went on to become a supermodel and anti-FGM campaigner, in 2009 film Desert Flower], and noticed her sitting at the Loewe Spring Summer '18 show and thought, 'Wow, it's the Desert Flower girl!' A year later I'm shooting with her, such a happy coincidence.
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What is Liya like?
She's a very calm, kind, and sweet person. And she's very elegant, with a great energy!
Loewe Autumn Winter 18 by Fumiko Imano
Did anything fun happen on set?
The day of the shoot was Liya’s birthday, so Jonathan [Anderson, Loewe creative director] organised a little surprise and brought a birthday cake for her! That was a sweet moment! Also, there was one shot in particular that we had a lot of fun taking – the one where we are at the orange table. I asked her to smile for me and we all just started laughing; it was so much fun, and as you can see her smile in this picture is really good!
There are some great group shots with Jonathan and the Loewe team – what is it like collaborating with them?
It's so fun! I met with Jonathan, Michael Amzalag and Mathias Augustyniak [of graphic design studio M/M Paris], and [stylist] Benjamin Bruno on fitting day, and we discussed directions for this shoot.
They all have such a clear vision of what they want to do, there's such a love of the ‘Creation’, and they have such a strong sense of humour! They also really trust me and the way I work, which is really wonderful.
Do you listen to music on set?
I actually don't remember if there was music. It's quite intense to shoot in one day. I think I may have asked Michael to DJ a bit?
What are your current obsessions?
At the moment I really love flying, being on a plane is my favourite way to travel. And also hunting for clothes and things at flea markets anywhere in the world. I am such a hoarder!
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